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Eyes Wide Shut

I recently discussed the contribution of animal research to the development of the drug Herceptin widely used in the treatment of a particular type of breast cancer.

The explanation was triggered in response to Dr. Greek’s assertion that the drug shows that “personalized medicine is already a reality” and his insinuation that animals are not needed in medical research.  

Little did Dr. Greek know the drug is actually derived from a mouse antibody and, if anything, it makes a superb example of how research with mice has contributed to the fight against cancer.   

Clearly, skepticism is no cure for ignorance.

Herceptin benefits thousands of women suffering from HER-2 positive breast cancer and gives them a fighting chance against the disease.  

Opponents of animal research invite us to ignore these women and dismiss the drug as “just one example”.  

Similarly, premature babies are saved every day from the discovery of lung surfactants in basic research with dogs.  Today, moms can walk away from the neonatal ICU with a baby in their hands, when yesterday they would have done so empty handed.  

Opponents invite us to ignore these babies and describe breakthroughs in neonatal care as “an appeal to emotion”.

Basic research in rabbits led to benefits for women’s health care with the development of in-vitro fertilization and oral contraceptives.

Opponents invite us to ignore such benefits and denigrate the science that led to the discoveries labeling it “research without aims”.

Work with rabbits led to the development of a vaccine for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that is highly effective in the prevention of cervical cancer.

Opponents invite us to ignore the health of our daughters and call this development “a fabrication”.

Research with mice and dogs led to the development of gene therapy for a type of childhood blindness.  

Opponents invite us to ignore these children and call the work “fraudulent”.

These examples represent only a handful of the contributions of animal research to medical science.

Denying these facts is foolish.   Suggesting that these advances were achieved merely by chance is absurd.  Describing the science that led to these advancements as “useless basic research” is a sign of ignorance.  Turning a blind eye to the patients that benefit from the research is immoral.   

Animal activists have their eyes wide shut.  

A reasoned, public debate on the ethics of animal research should start with the acceptance that the fruits of such research are right in front of us.  

Please, open your eyes and face the facts.


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